The premise is brilliant -- telling the story of the so-called Zombie War from a variety of points of view. And this does feel very much like one of those real oral history collections, especially if you listen to the recorded version. (Just be sure you get the complete one, and not the abridged -- until recently, abridged was all that was available. If you listened to a recording and you don't remember hearing a story from a Russian priest or an American feral child, you got the abridged one.)
As a writer, I admired and envied Brooks his premise and brilliant execution. I was surprised and impressed by the fact that the scariest part of this story isn't the zombies, but the human beings. The Russian soldier and her story of the "decimations" was especially chilling.
As a reader, I kept groping around for an arc that wasn't possible with this storytelling technique. Although I enjoyed many of the separate chapters and am glad I read the whole book, I think I may find it too difficult to feel genuinely compelled by a story without a hero to root for. (The entire human race doesn't quite count.)
Also -- and this is really
a personal quirk -- I think including Alan Alda as one of the readers was a mistake. His voice is so distinctive that I had a hard time just listening to his story. I just kept thinking, "Hey -- that's Alan Alda." Which isn't something that's as likely to happen with, say, Rene Auberjonois (though of course I'm crazy about him and was delighted to see his name on the cast of characters).
Do read this for what it says about people and the scary place our flaws may lead us, and do see the movie for a really great scary time; and don't worry about which order to do those, because they're completely different creations and you can enjoy them separately. I'd love to have a great spoiler-ful discussion about which take on North Korea was more likely to be accurate, the book's or the movie's. They were both brilliant, and creepy as all get-out. And (spoiler alert): the book will
tell you what that mushroom cloud Brad Pitt sees in the distance is.